Raymond van Barneveld edges Michael Smith at World Darts Championship
By James Dielhenn
Last Updated: 03/01/16 1:23am
Raymond van Barneveld’s fairytale World Darts Championship campaign continued after he came back from three sets down to eliminate Michael Smith.
The legendary Dutchman survived an early mauling from Smith in Friday's quarter-final and even saw the younger player miss a dart for the match before completing a magnificent 5-4 win to set up a last-four clash with Adrian Lewis.
Van Barneveld's pursuit of a sixth world title will now see him take part in Saturday's semi-finals after a stellar week which included an upset win against world No 1 Michael van Gerwen.
His dream run looked certain to end as 25-year-old Smith roared into a 3-0 lead at Alexandra Palace, winning a leg with a 97 checkout against the throw to take the opening set.
Casual finishes from 114 and 108 won 'Bully Boy' the second set and when he won the third with a stunning 121 checkout on the bullseye, the game seemed up for Barney.
Van Barneveld eased to his first set and upped the ante with a 121 finish to win a second - celebrating purposefully in front of his younger opponent, a moment which seemed to damage Smith's confidence.
A fourth 121 finish of the match helped Van Barneveld even up the scores and he then edged into a 4-3 lead which Smith valiantly wiped out.
At 2-0 up in the deciding set Smith missed a dart at tops that would have sealed his semi-final place then, after his opponent had won three legs in a row, got mixed up with his choice of shot, letting Van Barneveld in for a stunning comeback result.
Lewis will play Van Barneveld in the semi-finals after a 5-2 win against Peter Wright.
The two-time world champion hadn't dropped a set in the entire tournament and although that record disappeared he was never seriously troubled by 'Snakebite'.
Lewis raced into a three-set lead, extending his record to 14 in a row without loss, before Wright threatened his own comeback. At 4-2 up Lewis missed a dart for the match but Wright failed to punish him, missing a shot to take the match to a further set.
Watch the World Darts Championship semi-finals on Saturday live on Sky Sports 1 HD from 8pm.